Iron Wash |

Eastern Reef

Hiking Iron Wash - Eastern Reef Hiking Iron Wash
Eastern Reef

Overview | Getting There | Route | Photos | Maps | Comments


RATING: Easy to Strenuous Hike
MAPS: Old Woman Wash, UT;


47 | 27


45 | 27


41 | 25


38 | 20


38 | 19

View Full Weather Details
SEASON: Fall, Winter, Spring
GEAR: Standard Hiking Gear
WATER: None.
NOTES: Reaching the trailhead requires high clearance.


47 | 27


45 | 27


41 | 25


38 | 20


38 | 19

View Full Weather Details
Wingate walls in Iron Wash

Wingate walls in Iron Wash

For a canyon so pretty, and with such easy access, Iron Wash seems to be infrequently trodden. Most will want to just visit the lower end where the canyon cuts through the reef. Visiting just Iron Wash is a casual romp and suitable for most. The hike starts in a pretty Navajo walled canyon then turns into a very pretty, deep, and wide Wingate walled canyon before it exits the west side of the reef.

For the very motivated, a loop can be made up Iron Wash, along Lone Man Draw, down Ernie canyon and back to the car. This makes for an excellent (albeit long) 16-mile loop hike. Water availability is a problem, so doing it as an overnight would be difficult unless after recent rains. A car shuttle can reduce this to a more manageable 12-13 mile hike.

Typical scene in Lone Man Draw

Typical scene in Lone Man Draw

Getting There

At mile marker 141.6 on highway 24, take the side road on the west side of the highway through the gate. This is about 26 miles north of Hanksville, or 18 miles south of I-70 if coming from Green River.

  • Reset as you turn off UT-24. ( 12S 542367mE 4283583mN / N38° 41' 59" W110° 30' 46" )
  • 0.6 miles, the road descends into and crosses a wash (the lower end of Iron Wash). This section is generally the worst section of road and usually requires high clearance or a 4x4. ( 12S 541854mE 4284066mN / N38° 42' 15" W110° 31' 07" )
  • After crossing Iron Wash, the road ascends out of the wash, reaching a junction at 0.9 miles. Go left. ( 12S 541359mE 4284116mN / N38° 42' 17" W110° 31' 28" )
  • 2.8 miles - Iron Wash and the trailhead. ( 12S 538850mE 4283222mN / N38° 41' 48" W110° 33' 12" )
1894 signature in Iron Wash

1894 signature in Iron Wash


To Lone Man Draw (3.6 miles / 1-1.5 hours)
From the trailhead, follow the sandy wash and cross the log fence indicating the canyon is closed the vehicles. Just past the fence, on the right, is a cave and old signature. The cave shows smoke on the ceiling and was likely used for millennia as shelter by ancient people.

The canyon begins in Navajo sandstone and soon deepens. The towering walls become red Wingate as the canyon winds deeper into the eastern reef. In 1-1.5 hours the canyon opens at the backside of the reef and a junction is reached where Lone Man Draw comes in on the right. Left continues up Iron Wash proper and ends in several large pools in 20 minutes or so. This is a nice destination.

For those up for the full loop, go right at the junction and start up Lone Man Draw.

Lone Man Draw (4.1 miles / 1.5 hours)
Lone Man Draw is wide and shallow. Hike up it, keeping and eye on the Wingate wall to the right. Though not spectacular, Lone Man Draw does have a surprising number of trees and seasonal seeps in sections.

When past the Wingate wall on the right, Lone Man Draw begins heading due north and away from the reef. A junction here with a prominent side wash makes a good spot to leave Lone Man Draw. Work up the side wash, passing a few minor obstacles until reaching the ridge. The ridge provides a good view down into Ernie Canyon. From the ridge, find and follow and an old trail that casually meanders down to the bottom of Ernie. This was likely either a motorcycle trail or bicycle trail at one point.

Ernie (3.9 miles)
Hiking down Ernie Canyon, the canyon quickly deepens as it enters the reef. An old mining road on the left is a good landmark. Just past it on the next bend are the remains of an old mining cabin on the right. Look up high on the north (left) side of the canyon from the ruins to see an arch.

Continuing down the canyon passes through Wingate and into the more shallow Navajo before exiting the reef and reaching a log fence.

Back to Iron Wash via the Dirt Road (4 miles)
After the log fence, follow the road a short distance down the wash. Continue on the road as it leaves the wash and begins heading back to the Iron Wash trailhead. Take a right at the junction just after leaving the wash, then again 2 miles later. It is about 4 miles from the log fence in Ernie back to the trailhead at Iron Wash.


Route / 15.66 miles / Elevation Range 4,788 - 5,699 ft.
Printable Maps:

12S 538844mE 4283223mN

N38° 41' 48" W110° 33' 12"

Log Fence

12S 538510mE 4283430mN

N38° 41' 55" W110° 33' 26"

Cave and Signature

12S 538508mE 4283457mN

N38° 41' 56" W110° 33' 26"

Lone Man Draw

12S 535697mE 4285634mN

N38° 43' 07" W110° 35' 22"

Leave Lone Man

12S 535424mE 4288234mN

N38° 44' 31" W110° 35' 33"

Trail Down

12S 535552mE 4289060mN

N38° 44' 58" W110° 35' 27"

Ernie Bottom

12S 536891mE 4288835mN

N38° 44' 51" W110° 34' 32"

Mining Road

12S 537943mE 4288061mN

N38° 44' 26" W110° 33' 48"

Arch View and Cabin Ruins

12S 538092mE 4288144mN

N38° 44' 28" W110° 33' 42"

Ernie Fence

12S 540529mE 4286890mN

N38° 43' 47" W110° 32' 01"

Junction - Right On Return

12S 541006mE 4286752mN

N38° 43' 43" W110° 31' 42"


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